Breathe Movie Review: Paralyzed But Determined To Be Mobile (

“But never mind!” the remarkably exuberant>tweet Breathe seems to say. (The script is by William Nicholson [Everest, Unbroken].) Diana and Robin — with lots of help from Diana’s twin brothers (both played by Tom Hollander: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Riot Club) — enlist the assistance of their wacky inventor pal Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville: Viceroy’s House, Paddington), who marvels that no one has previously tried to cobble together a wheelchair with a portable battery-operated respirator, so by gum he’ll have to do it himself. (Soon, they were going into production with them, because there were lots of other people in the UK alone who could use them.) It’s all a bit madcap, and if ordinary people were just going to have to bloody get used to seeing a disabled person out and about, not hidden away in a hospital, so be it. Every step along the way of forcing the world open for Robin — such as jury-rigging a van to accommodate his wheelchair so that he is no more stuck at home than he would be in a hospital — throws up stumbling blocks to his comfort and dignity. And Robin and his gang just barrel right over them.

Breathe doesn’t pretend that any of the merry paradigm shifting it depicts was easy — and probably it was quite a bit more harrowing and rife with more setbacks than we see. But its optimism and sense of derring-do is charming and, much more importantly, genuinely inspiring.>tweet The real Robin was a pioneer for the rights and humanity of disabled people, but there’s nothing portentous here, and nothing grim about disability… except the cultural approach to it that Robin and Diana challenged. Breathe is almost, and yet in no way inappropriately so, fun. Thanks to Robin’s activism, the British press coined a new word for people reliant on respirators but not letting that stop them from living: responaut. The resolute, cheeky intrepidness>tweet of that wonderful word is all over this movie.

viewed during the 61st BFI London Film Festival

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